Boston: William Carter and Brother, 1863. 8vo. 36 pages. Original printed wrappers. Spine repaired, some light handling wear. Item #405004
First edition, an important presentation copy annotated by the author, inscribed to his daughter Emily Elizabeth Parsons on the front wrapper: “Miss E. E. Parsons from her father.” Four pages with revisions by Theophilus Parsons, correcting, emending, and adding text, presumably to share advancing thoughts on the subject with his daughter. The most important insertion relates to the Constitution. The printed text reads: “But, it its American sense, and in its purpose and its work, a Constitution had no existence, until it was called into being for our needs, and our good; called into being by the progress of humanity, and for that progress.” In manuscript, Parsons changes it to read: “… by the progress of humanity, as the appointed means, by which the fabric of political society for mankind is, in coming ages, to gain new forms, new principles, new utility, and new life.”
Emily Elizabeth Parsons' (1824-1880) father edited and saw published her Civil War letters. That book, along with her posthumously published memoir, Fearless Purpose: Memoir of Emily Elizabeth Parsons, offered a rare insider’s view from the nurse’s perspective, describing her work tending to Union soldiers and managing the staff at Benton Barracks Hospital in St. Louis. Her writing provided an important insight into the lives of the women who served in the American Civil War, and ranked besides the published works of Louisa May Alcott, Clara Barton, and Susie Taylor.
After the war, she returned to Cambridge and spent six years raising money for a hospital there. It opened in a local rented house in 1869, but closed due to lack of funding in 1872. It was reopened after her death in 1866, renamed the Mt. Auburn Hospital.
About Theophilus Parsons, Jr.: Son of the noted Massachusetts jurist of the same name, Theophilus Parsons, Jr. was a Boston lawyer and literary figure best remembered for the legal texts he authored during his long tenure as Dane Professor of Law at Harvard. He was also a man of literary, philosophical, and religious interests, editing several journals and writing on a variety of topics (including Swedenborgianism, a preoccupation he shared with the Transcendentalists).